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Obama endorses Lamont and several local Democrats

October 1, 2018

Former President Barack Obama delivered an endorsement of Ned Lamont’s candidacy for governor Monday and gave a boost to a long list of Democrats running for the state House and Senate.

In the Lamont endorsement, Obama cited a moment of courage that he found less inspiring a dozen years ago.

Back then, Obama came to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman’s defense, urging Connecticut Democrats not to abandon Lieberman for Lamont over the war in Iraq. Lieberman was a staunch supporter of the war; Lamont was not.

“When Ned Lamont stood up to his own party and opposed the war in Iraq more than a decade ago, he showed the courage to do what was right,” Obama said in an endorsement statement released Monday by Lamont’s campaign.

That was not the message in March of 2006, when Obama was a new U.S. senator, a rising star in Democratic politics, and the keynote speaker at an annual fundraising dinner in Hartford.

“I know that some in the party have differences with Joe. I’m going to go ahead and say it. It’s the elephant in the room,” Obama told his audience. “And Joe and I don’t agree on everything.”

“But what I know is that Joe Lieberman is a man with a good heart, with a keen intellect, who cares about the working families of America,” Obama said. “I am absolutely certain Connecticut is going to have the good sense to send Joe Lieberman back to the U.S. Senate.”

As Obama spoke, Lamont was seated with his wife, Annie, at Table 96, just outside the kitchen and far, far away from the roped-off section of party insiders, elected officials and big donors in the front of the room at the 58th Annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinner, as the fundraiser was known then.

The party has since revised its views of Thomas Jefferson over slavery, Andrew Jackson over his treatment of Indians, and Joe Lieberman over, well, a lot of things.

Despite his cheap seat at that long-ago dinner, Lamont went on to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, but Lieberman ran and won as a petitioning candidate in November.

Obama praised Lamont on Monday as a successful businessman who demonstrated an ability to bring people together, and who created good-paying jobs while volunteering as a teacher in a Bridgeport high school.

“That’s why I’m so proud to endorse Ned Lamont for governor,” Obama said. “If elected, Ned will do what he’s done his whole life to turn the state around and ensure a more hopeful future: he’ll protect working families, improve Connecticut’s business climate, and refuse to back down from making the tough choices.”

Local endorsements

Obama also endorsed Lamont’s running mate, Susan Bysiewicz, and Jahana Hayes, the Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional District.

Obama weighed in on a number of local races too, throwing his support behind Democrats running in key districts for the state legislature including James Moroney, who is running for the highly-contested 14th state Senate seat of retiring Democrat Gayle Slossberg in Milford.

In races where Democrats are hoping to unseat Republicans, he endorsed former Working Families co-chair Julie Kushner who is hoping to unseat one of the legislature’s more conservative Republicans, state Sen. Michael McLachlan of Danbury; 21-year-old Will Haskell, who is running to unseat incumbent Toni Boucher, R-Wilton; and Hamden resident Jorge Cabrera, who is working to unseat Republican George Logan.

In state House races, he endorsed Derby resident Kara Rochelle, the founder of the Naugatuck Valley Young Democrats running to fill the seat of retiring Democrat Linda Gentile. Obama also endorsed Matt Blumenthal, son of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, to fill the seat of state Attorney General candidate William Tong, representing Stamford.

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